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A right to privacy is not enumarated in the Constitution but is found by extension of the 4th and 14th admendments.  It protects us from government overreach.

A convergence of technology, corporations, and expanding laws are all helping to circumvent this right.  I try not to wear a tinfoil hat, but this is one issue that has me reaching for it on a regular basis.  

With rapid increases in technology, and a congress seemingly working for corporate interests, where do our rights stand?  Stated a different way: how much work are you willing to do to maintain your privacy?  Do you care you will be living a fully public life?  Just don't be a teacher.  Arizona legislation to fire teachers for swearing

I don't think that the effort to fully coordinate this and run with it have been done yet, but I don't think that it would be too difficult either.

Most of the things I see as attacks are promoted as convience, safety, or savings.  Just marketed to sell them to the public.  If it is just for revenue, and lends itself to tracking, does it make it any less worrisome?  If it is done for just corporate reasons, should I be reassured?

Recent legislation (SOPA and PIPA in particular) make me wonder how much we are willing to give up without a fight, and what creates opposition.  Are we willing to give up that privacy to the government, a company, or some combination of the two?  

I don't know which would be worse; the government or a corporation collecting and using this data.  I just don't expect it to EVER be used in my favor.

Cases in Point:

1. Target. Target knows you are pregnant - Fixed Link
Crux of the story is that by tracking purchasing behaviour, Target can tell when you are pregnant.  And Target now is mixing up their ads to try and disguise the fact that it has an 84.7% chance that it knows that you're pregnant.

2. Red light cameras.  Red light cameras are all over in TX, my current abode. What gets you a ticket changes between cities (i.e. right or left hand turns on reds).  Cities have been found reducing the length of yellow lights to increase tickets, which would not increase safety, but would increase revenue. (1)  Cameras that have reduced revenue have been turned off and the city of Huston was sued by the company that runs their cameras because they wanted to turn them off.

3. Speed cameras.  Family has seen them in the Southwest, and I've seen them in Illinois.  The promoted reasons are for safety, but getting the a ticket weeks or months after the offense(s) does not have the same impact as an officer watching traffic or pulling over a motorist.  If it is about saving lives, the impact is different than the talking point.

4. RF ID chips.  They're supposed to be for turnpikes to simplify travel between point A and B.  No more slowing down for booths and collectors.  Now just zip through and the amount is automatically collected from a preset fund.  That is tied to a bank account.  In the surface this sounds wonderful.  

But the tech is the scary part.  A RF ID chip now tied to the car, why not put it in the license plate itself?  No more need for red light cameras or speed cameras.  Just use the RF ID.  The same fund that is used for your tolls can be used for the speeding and red light fines.  A sensor next to any road and tied into a state-wide database is all that is required.

4a. The tech is the same that you see in commercials of the young man walking through the store pocketing items, and then paying for them at the checkout quickly and easily.  A convience to the store (security, reduced amount of cashiers, quicker checkouts), but with drawbacks of those active trackers.  Those same RF ID chips are on all medicine, alchol, any other item you have.  Tracking purchases could not have gotten easier.  The technology can easily tell what is in your car, and can lead great amounts of info when data mined.  Who needs a search warrant when an overpowered reader can tell if you've been purchasing suspicous amounts of allergy pills, or fertilizer, or, or, or...

5. Consumer tech.  Smart phones and insurance plugs.  Even without RF ID chips, people are still voluntarily handing over gobs of information about their driving patterns.  Want a discount on your insurance, then prove you are a good driver.  The insurance companies will track the mileage and the acceleration and braking forces of your car.  The tech exists that lateral g's can also be measured.  So avoiding the accident can now raise insurance as well as an accident itself!  Or just let the cell phone companies do it instead.  The tinfoil hat must be slipping, because I can't see what they would need with the info, but a smartphone can collect it all with an accelerator-monitor and GPS.  

I don't think I have to be a Luddite.  Stand alone GPS units normally didn't have any ability to send data, just to collect.  So running a GPS is still possible without broadcasting all the information.  The integration of all of the data and who collects it and what they can do it with it is my concern.

Like Nissan.  One of the features reported of their GT-R was that the electronic top speed limiter could be removed when the car was on a race track. Nissan GTR speed limiter  So the car knows where you are, and what you are doing.  Is it recording?  Can it be enough to invalidate a warranty?  Why limit it to a track application, just measure the acceleration, speed, braking to see if the warranty can be voided.

Planting a GPS on a person of interest's car now seems low tech.  The same RF ID chips that could be placed on a plate (or a body panel), and have the road report speeds and the like could be used to track location.  The infrastructure requirements would be insane to start.

Or the tech could be used in reverse.  The car can read the speed of the road and refuse to break the speed limit.  That could create a far larger problem however, there would be a huge reduction in speeders, and the revenue they generate.  The infrastructure would be far more diluted in this scenario.

 (1) Source was a local news story in 2010, but Googling this refers to anti-camera sites.  While I may agree with them, not always the best source.

* Edited 4/5/2012 to clean up punctuation and correct a word choice.  No substance of the diary was changed.

Originally posted to LostBuckeye on Tue Feb 21, 2012 at 07:30 AM PST.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Really? Target knows that I'm pregnant? (4+ / 0-)

    Well, good for them, even I had no clue about that.

    But I'm with you on the speed cameras.  My jurisdiction instituted them in school zones to keep the students safe.  But really, how does that apply at 4:30 am on Sunday morning?

  •  Right to privacy is traded for the joy of Facebook (6+ / 0-)

    problem is, they traded mine, too

    It seems curiosity has killed the cat that had my tongue.

    by Murphoney on Tue Feb 21, 2012 at 07:40:28 AM PST

  •  apple, google, facebook (10+ / 0-)

    Are three of the most vicious abusers of your privacy and nasty companies out there.

    Apple pionered tracking people via their cell phone, and yes the data can be extracted or even used by applications.  When they got caught doing it, the cult of Jobs screamed to defend them and then apple updated the TOS so the tracking is legal now.

    Googles mapping and wifi was always suspicious, and then it turned out they were war driving (busting into peoples wireless networks) as well.  In the back and forth it was decided that people could now be criminally prosecuted for not properly securing their wireless networks.  A hilarious situation since most IT security types don't use wireless because it's impossible to fully secure.

    facebooks "we own your data" policies and networking of people is also hilarious from several different aspects.  Let it be said that facebook essentially owns the lives of several people.  If it's on their, they own it.

    This is just three companies.  But think about it this way, none of that behavior is legal for the government to do, yet they do it daily and are worshiped as tech gods making our lives better.

    "Foolproof systems don't take into account the ingenuity of fools."

    by overclocking on Tue Feb 21, 2012 at 08:03:01 AM PST

    •  More and more online services are (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      foresterbob

      requiring you to use your real name in order to be able to access content.  Google Plus has gone so far as to identify fake looking names and banning the users.

      I'm sorry, but your reality simply doesn't fit my economic model.

      by Reframing the Debate on Tue Feb 21, 2012 at 10:17:06 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  that's why anti bullying laws are evil (0+ / 0-)

        That was the reason we go them.  To help stop that sort of behavior.  Now they are in place and there is no going back.

        "Foolproof systems don't take into account the ingenuity of fools."

        by overclocking on Tue Feb 21, 2012 at 01:19:03 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Anti bullying laws are the result of parents (0+ / 0-)

          failing to prepare children for the ravages of the world. Existing laws should have been sufficient to deal with this (just like existing laws were just as capable as the patriot act at addressing terrorism), but legislator love to pass laws that seem to be doing something.

  •  There's so much more (15+ / 0-)

    Want to discuss birth control with your doctor... nope a religious nut gets to stick his nose into your business.

    Want to teach your kid about climate change... nope a billionaire oil exec gets to overrulle his classwork.

    Want to visit your grandma in another state without having half a dozen strangers leer at your naked body... not if you want to get a plane.

    The world will end not with a bang, but with a "Do'oh!"
    "America is a free speech zone."

    by Love and Death on Tue Feb 21, 2012 at 08:13:09 AM PST

  •  I guess the only thing to do for internet (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kyril, Bob Love

    privacy is to change your name to John or Mary Smith.

    I'm sorry, but your reality simply doesn't fit my economic model.

    by Reframing the Debate on Tue Feb 21, 2012 at 10:19:26 AM PST

    •  There are several ways to dupe the technology of (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      YucatanMan

      the internet. The most basic is to deny all tracking cookies -- that bit of information that your browser keeps that tells a website you've been there before.

      If you're really serious, you can set up a network proxie to change the IP address that you're really using. Of course, establishing aliases without trackbacks is still fairly easy; it's mentally challenging to remember who you are where.

      There are several websites I know of that offer anonymous, untrackable access by using their own network of proxy servers. You hit a different one every time, randomly, and it can't be tracked back to you visiting the site you're really visiting.

      The best security is still vigilance. I never gave out much on Facebook, and I don't go there at all any more; nor the other networking sites, except a few that are underground.

      One can always use off-the-shelf prepaid phones, but that's getting harder with the terrorist laws. You can also kill tracking by turning off your phone and placing it in a lead container while traveling.

       Drive an older car; sweep it for bugs (you can get sensors fairly cheap) regularly, and vary your routines randomly.

      I don't see this reversing, so plan to work at staying a step ahead of the watchers. Also, government is getting less transparent, so we can't watch the watchers. The thing is, it's both a conspiracy and a movement, and no one seems concerned, so there's really no way to fight it as individuals.

    •  And get charged for their purchases (0+ / 0-)

      and arrested for their crimes? No way!

      "I was a big supporter of waterboarding" - Dick Cheney 2/14/10

      by Bob Love on Tue Feb 21, 2012 at 11:06:54 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  ...and planting GPSes when everyone has a cell? (0+ / 0-)

    Easier just to get a court order and subpoena location data from the provider.

    I don't know how much this technique is in use right now, but I'm sure it'll be used more and more in the future. Keep in mind that, even with the GPS off, your phone can still know where you are by Wi-Fi methods and/or tower triangulation.

    You can disable Wi-Fi if you want to further obscure your location, but as long as your phone's on, your provider obviously knows your general location... And, obviously, turning off GPS and especially Wi-Fi disables some of the functionality of smartphones.

  •  Is it true that an iPhone will pick up data from (0+ / 0-)

    one's private conversations and broadcast it to merchants? As in, if I told my sister I wanted to buy a new pair of shoes, all of a sudden I'd be getting calls from stores?

    This is alarming.  It's bad enough being radioactively pornoscanned at the airport. I'm wondering whether I have to ditch all my devices.

    "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

    by Diana in NoVa on Tue Feb 21, 2012 at 10:42:57 AM PST

    •  No, but technology is just about there... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      VigilantLiberal

      It would be simple enough for them to scan your text messages for ad targeting, or even more nefarious purposes. Doing voice recognition on every single call would take a lot of processing power, though, so that's not really feasible just yet. (Unless they force your phone to do the voice recognition and send along a transcript with the audio, which would solve that problem...)

      I don't think the cell carriers are stupid enough to monitor private calls and text messages for ad targeting and the like...yet.

      Encryption is a measure against this (not to mention government or other monitoring), but don't expect easily-used end-to-end encryption for the average cellphone user anytime soon.

  •  RFIDs in license plates? What's next--they (0+ / 0-)

    implant them into our bodies? And here I've been referring to Bank of America as "Bank 666" just because their ATMs are so numerous. Little did I know.

    As for tickets, I got 3 in 2010--this after 25+ years of no tickets. The first one was for speeding, ironically along a local street I rarely used. $150. "I'm out of work. How about a warning? " "No warnings, sir." That cost me just one afternoon in court (what else did I have to do?) and it didn't go on my license, but another ticketee pointed out that there were three courtrooms in session simultaneously, and even if every miscreant pled to a lesser charge (as I'd just done), the county was making a nice piece of change. Ticket number 2 was for $20, and I didn't even ask for a warning, figuring the trooper would have given me one if he'd wanted to--or been allowed to, more likely.

    The third was after a fender-bender I'd caused, and cost me 4 hours in court, and not all at once. It was obvious to all involved that the city was milking this source of revenue for all its worth.

  •  Cars (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CharlieHipHop

    You could take public transit and avoid most of the problems you mention here.  I forget where it says we have a right to drive privately and any way that we like.

    That said, I hate speed limits.

    We're all just monkeys burning in hell.

    by smokeymonkey on Tue Feb 21, 2012 at 10:57:03 AM PST

    •  And that's why I like red light cams etc. (0+ / 0-)

      I also like sobriety checkpoints.  Make driving enough of a pain that some people shift to using public transit.

      •  There's no proof of that (0+ / 0-)

        Sobriety checkpoints are incredibly intrusive. And red light cams victimize the poor far more than the wealthy. A red light cam ticket in San Francisco or Oakland will set you back over $350 - that is money a lot of people just don't have.

        A lot of people depend on their cars to get anywhere. Heaping superfluous fines on people is not going to get them out of their cars - it just erodes people's trust in government.

        "The two pioneering forces of modern sensibility are Jewish moral seriousness and homosexual aestheticism and irony." Susan Sontag

        by Shane Hensinger on Tue Feb 21, 2012 at 06:00:14 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Don't run red lights (0+ / 0-)

          If you can't do the time, don't do the crime.  I'm all for red light cameras but then, I've been hit by some asshole who ran a red light.  It sort of changes your perspective.

          You don't want the ticket?  Don't run the light.

          As for being on camera everywhere you go -- yeah, that's an issue for me.  We've reached a point where Big Brother really is watching.  It's creepy as hell.

          All you need is three chords and the truth, man - Jimi Hendrix

          by CharlieHipHop on Wed Feb 22, 2012 at 05:02:40 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Do you take a right on red? (0+ / 0-)

            Everyone in CA does - that'll get you a ticket at a red light camera intersection. $350 for a minor traffic violation is absurd - totally out of proportion to the infraction itself.

            "The two pioneering forces of modern sensibility are Jewish moral seriousness and homosexual aestheticism and irony." Susan Sontag

            by Shane Hensinger on Wed Feb 22, 2012 at 02:42:33 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  Or, use an older car. Mine is 12 years old. (0+ / 0-)

      Anything built before 2000 is not sufficiently sophisticated to report on you.

    •  Smile for the camera (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      foresterbob, CharlieHipHop

      Transit systems are heavily cammed and those that have electronic fare systems (which is to say, most of them) can plot your moves.

      I learned the reality of that latter point when I lost an electronic fare card, and reported it, then found it.  When I tried to use it the next morning, I found it hadn't been deactivated, and when I got to work I called in to see if I could salvage it (and not pay the replacement fee, uh-huh).

      The transit system's underfunded and always creaking along.  Took quite a while to make it through the calling queue.  But the rep who finally got on the line did a little clicking and said, "Yep, I can see you returned to your regular commute this morning.  If you can answer your security question, I can keep the card live."

      Your. Regular. Commute.

      Well, I won't be using my transit pass when murdering the next stand-offish literary agent, will I?

      "Injustice wears ever the same harsh face wherever it shows itself." - Ralph Ellison

      by KateCrashes on Tue Feb 21, 2012 at 06:21:17 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I have a weird take on it. (4+ / 0-)

    It seems like the people who will have the most privacy will be the people at the bottom of the income scale who are not on public assistance.

    I'm a minimum wage manual laborer. Without giving away my own information, I can truthfully say that a lot of us are unbanked. No credit cards, no bank accounts. A lot of us pay utility bills in cash at the grocery store.  If you have send money, you do it via Western Union. And not owning a car, but taking a public transportation instead also avoids the tracking licence plate problem. Most have no smartphone, and no "high tech", either. Too expensive.

    I write the series Confessions of a Retail Worker here on DK. It documents my life in a non-unionized workplace.

    by Lightbulb on Tue Feb 21, 2012 at 11:00:01 AM PST

  •  I support traffic control cameras (0+ / 0-)

    Because I live in the Chicago Met area where many people drive like idiots. I have seen people just stone cold run red lights. I've seen people get right on the bumpers of other drivers and honk even though the cars are going the speed limit.

    For too long, the scofflaws have been allowed to rule the streets secure in the knowledge that if they can't see the police then they're safe. I'm actually happy to see some enforcement, and enforcement that's 24 hours consistent, too.

    •  Are IL Red Light cameras consistent? (4+ / 0-)

      My issues with the cameras boil down to the following:

      The rules here in TX change depending on the city you live in.  Some places a right hand turn after a full stop is legal, some places you will get a ticket.  

      Locations are changing the rules to increase revenues.  Yellow light times are being cut to create more red light runners.  An increase in the yellow time would also create the same safety benefit.

      Accidents for rear end collisions have increased (anecdotal from what I've seen at local camera intersections), and now people will speed up to make sure they are through on yellow, or even green lights.

      Stopping 2 feet late will yield a ticket.

      If we want to make safer intersections, red light cameras are a blunt tool.  Traffic design can, and does play an even larger part.  Design of the intersection, roundabouts, etc, and traffic light timing are all part of it.  Slapping a red light camera on an intersection is only a band aid.

      •  yes laws are pretty consistent here (0+ / 0-)

        Right on red is allowed in IL unless marked on signage. I have heard of yellow light tweaking but haven't actually seen it here.

        To be honest, the problem with safety isn't usually the roadways or lanes, etc. it's the drivers who think they are more important than anyone else and that the rules don't apply to them.

    •  But thy're really not effective at stopping people (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LostBuckeye, Shane Hensinger

      from driving crazy. They're incredibly effective at finding you, however, should a zealous DA decide to hang something on you because the real perp is a friend.

  •  The problem is we're signing off on this... (4+ / 0-)

    We're signing off on this when we agree to use almost any online service and press that little "I Agree" button at the end of the agreement almost no one reads.  We're signing off on this when we do not criticize progressive politicians for supporting dreck like the Patriot Act or warrant-less wiretaps.

    If we want to legitimately complain about this, maybe we shouldn't endorse it.

  •  Privacy, what’s that? (0+ / 0-)

    You live in a sci-fi nightmare and you’re being tracked like a lab rat (and if you don’t think they’re not going to use this info against you… then you’re just stupid.  

    Resistance? = Zero… and there are no such thing as ‘rights’

    I don't think I have to be a Luddite
    I’m really sick of the geek term “Luddite”
    Ludites were late in the game, the war against the machine was/is a long and bloody affair with people who tried to ruin livelihoods and upend industries often time ending up hanging from a very short rope…  

    Nudniks need not apply.

    by killermiller on Tue Feb 21, 2012 at 04:43:40 PM PST

  •  You should have listed the Ninth Amendment too (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    foresterbob, VigilantLiberal
    The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
    Notice there is no mention of "states", so it's very hard to twist this one into "state's rights".

    If it's
    Not your body,
    Then it's
    Not your choice
    And it's
    None of your damn business!

    by TheOtherMaven on Tue Feb 21, 2012 at 05:20:11 PM PST

  •  I'd like to see red light and speed cams outlawed (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    foresterbob, NoMoreLies

    in California and then nationwide. The original justification - that these methods of enforcement would result in safer driving - has been proven false. Now they're basically cash cows for strapped local governments. Fees and fines should not be used as a means of budgetary support so when they decrease the government increases the fine so it's completely out of proportion to the infraction. Case in point - $65 parking tickets here in San Francisco (they have doubled in 8 years as more and more people get less and less tickets.)

    "The two pioneering forces of modern sensibility are Jewish moral seriousness and homosexual aestheticism and irony." Susan Sontag

    by Shane Hensinger on Tue Feb 21, 2012 at 06:06:21 PM PST

  •  When has privacy right extended much beyond home? (0+ / 0-)

    Most decisions limit the "zone of privacy" to matters within the home, e.g. procreation, gay sex, bill  of rights. Perhaps there is a liberty interest in communications over the internet, but just as we lose some protections when we drive down the highway so will we be less assured of privacy when surfing the web.

    Some...spoke with strong and powerful voices, which proclaimed in accents trumpet-tongued,"I am beautiful, and I rule". Others murmured in tones scarcely audible, but exquisetly soft and sweet, "I am little, and I am beloved"." Armandine A.L. Dupin

    by Kvetchnrelease on Wed Feb 22, 2012 at 04:09:53 AM PST

    •  A matter of degrees (0+ / 0-)

      For most of us; while in public it is legal to follow someone and take pictures of them, it generally is not considered normal behavior.

      If some of the tech that is out there is used we will all have our own paparazzi entourage.  Trying to track us, and sell us things.  You won't even need to carry a cell phone, facial recognition (once perfected) could do it as easily.

      In this case it is maybe not privacy, but anonymity that is lost.  It still leads to the same results.  

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